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Signoff: David Taylor

A COUPLE of weeks ago I was in a reflective mood as my 737 taxied under Gatwick's award-winning Pier 6 before taking off for the Spanish sun.

It was all so British ? the fantastic engineering, the great architecture, the blanket of cold driving rain. And I raised an imaginary glass to that greatest of British construction clients ? BAA.

Of course, it's different in Spain. I'm not knocking their airports but you should see some of the construction practices there.

They were re-cladding Girona airport this time last year and they still haven't got round to sealing the panels.

But what a shock awaited me when I touched down at Gatwick on Tuesday.

It was Gatwick alright, but not as I knew it. The coffee was better, but the tea was rubbish. The fast-food outlets were serving tapas. I couldn't get a pint of John Smith's anywhere, but the sangria was good ? and dirt cheap.

The smell of chorizo sausage wafted through the arrivals hall, as did the sound of f lamenco music coming over the PA. More surprising still, the sun was out and the temperature was nudging 23 degrees.

It was like I was still in Spain. What the hell's been going on while I was away?

I WAS very pleased to hear that the Plant Theft Action Group and the Metropolitan Police Service are launching a scheme to deter thieves and help recover stolen plant.

But who was the clever dick who suggested calling the unit set up to administer the scheme Plant Pot?

It is supposedly derived from the phrase 'Plant Pro-active Operational Team' ? but my guess is that the acronym came first, as is usually the case.

Well anyway, it's a silly blunder. The name will provoke sniggers of ridicule throughout the industry and will no doubt lead to the unit being referred to as the Old Bill & Ben.

Pity the police officer who has to stand up in court and give evidence that the only comment made by the accused after his arrest was 'f lobadob' and that he gave his name as 'Little Weed'.

If they've got any sense, they'll rename the unit before it's too late.

I'M ON top of current events, so I know that there's a ball-kicking contest about to get underway in Germany.

But like many of those who won't be painting their faces red and white and spending the next month bellowing incoherently at the telly, I can't see what all the fuss is about.

Incomprehension is no excuse for complacency, though, and any employer that refuses to acknowledge the powerful passions that are provoked by the sight of 22 men kicking a bag of air around a field for 90 minutes will bring about a violent reaction among its football-mad workforce and thus provoke serious industrial strife.

I know this because the conciliation and arbitration service ACAS has set up a special page on its website to help employers manage World Cup fever.

The website gives handy advice on how to indulge your workforce while still managing to keep the business ticking over.

First of all, you've got to be flexible ? don't just put your foot down and say the lads can't watch a crucial match. If you do, they might lynch you.

You've also got to guard against discrimination If you have employees from other countries, they might not want to watch England matches, but you might have to let them have time off to watch other teams.

You've also got to safeguard employ-ees who aren't interested in football ? it's not fair to leave them holding the fort while everybody else is glued to the box.

Well, good luck. And remember, it's only once every four years.